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Downtown Park Rapids was transformed into a deluxe eatery Friday during the 2nd annual Bite of Park Rapids. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Bite of Park Rapids is a feast for the ages, young and old

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Hundreds of hungry connoisseurs converged on downtown Park Rapids Friday to nosh on samples of the town's best delicacies.

Italian meatballs, steak kabobs, egg rolls, fruit kabobs and stuffed falafel delighted adults and kids alike, who washed it all down with an adult beverage or fresh squeezed lemonade.

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Perfect hot sunny weather and a variety of music on a well-used stage made the second annual Bite of Park Rapids a growing festival.

Parking was scarce due to Crazy Days, which started Thursday.

Summer visitors relished the food, the bargains, the corn dogs.

Four-year-old Jonathan Meyer came all the way from Los Angeles to munch his way into the afternoon, ketchup dripping from his chin.

"Good," he pronounced his corn dog. He was a man (boy) of few words.

Bite is the culmination of a successful summer for the Downtown Business Association, whose 2nd Street Stage Thursday night concerts have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

"Something's happening downtown," grinned Uzi Monka, a downtown merchant and the impetus behind the Bite.

"The falafels are to die for," said downtown merchant Cynthia Jones, busy manning a beverage tent in between bites.

Benna Sawles, 3, of Maplewood, was vacationing near Park Rapids with family. She bit into a fruit kabob and grinned from ear to ear.

Alli Belfiori, whose mom owns the MinneSoda Fountain, gamely filled falafel after falafel as word spread that the pita treats were a must-have.

Contestants participated in food contests as part of the Bite of Park Rapids Friday.

Jesse Snow won the watermelon seed-spitting contest, a whopping 5-foot-8-inches.

John Ahlin, 4, of Little Falls, noshed on watermelon but broke into tears as he faced an audience watching his every pucker.

Annais Stentz of Edina won the kids watermelon-eating contest.

The food-lovers event went throughout the day and into the evening.

Bolstered by a midday break (the eaters, not the servers,) some who lunched downtown re-visited the scene of the feast by evening, to start gorging all over again.

Weary merchants cleaned up the street and dropped into bed, only to open their stores for the Saturday weekend crowd.

"It's been a great summer," Monka said.

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Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers Hubbard County, courts and breaking news.

(218) 732-3364
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